Business

Thumbnail image for Sony Pictures Cyber Attack: Pearl Harbor or Forrest Gump?

Sony Pictures Cyber Attack: Pearl Harbor or Forrest Gump?

by Doug Porter 12.18.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Yesterday Sony Pictures did what many businesses would in similar circumstances – it assessed risks relative to reward and chose to pull the plug on a soon-to-be-released movie comedy, ‘The Interview.’

The $44 million film staring Seth Rogen and James Franco about an assassination attempt on North Korea’s leader was supposed to debut on Dec. 25, Christmas Day.

Now it’s dead in the water, with company reps saying, “Sony has no further release plans for the film.”

This decision was the end result of a hacking of Sony’s computer system by the “Guardians of Peace,” a group the US government says has links to North Korea. Unreleased films, company emails, employee information, threats to employees and their families and promises of violence against theaters and the public have all surfaced on the internet in recent days.

Today I’ll take a look at the implications of both the attack and Sony’s decision to capitulate.

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Thumbnail image for The City Council’s Symbolic Re-Vote on Lightner as President

The City Council’s Symbolic Re-Vote on Lightner as President

by Doug Porter 12.16.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s business as usual in San Diego. Amid concerns that last week’s city council election of Sheri Lightner as president, may have followed meetings in violation of the Brown Act, a special meeting has been called today to affirm the decision.

NBC7 reported last week on what might be “serial meetings,” one-on-one private sessions involving six council members. They passed on the findings to the City Attorney’s office.

Since that decision Councilwoman Lightner has been acting as president. I believe her election was orchestrated by local business interests as retaliation for Councilman Todd Gloria aggressive support of a local minimum wage ordinance.

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Thumbnail image for SDFP Editors Debate To Publish or Not to Publish a Submission

SDFP Editors Debate To Publish or Not to Publish a Submission

by Staff 12.16.2014 Activism

An open letter from Dr. Fredi Avalos generates discussion on SDFP’s role in critiquing the Left and movement building

By San Diego Free Press Editorial Board

How do we reconcile our differences on the Left to more effectively fight a common enemy?

The San Diego Free Press does not publish every work that is submitted. The four daily editors determine whether a submission meets our criteria for quality of writing and compatibility with our mission of providing grassroots news and progressive views.

There have been a few times when we have declined to publish articles that were articulate and authored by respected members of the SDFP community of contributors and readers. When this occurs, it is a result of discussion and a final vote of the full editorial board, in which the majority position is reflected and the contributor is advised of our decision.

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Thumbnail image for Bankers, Pot Smokers Get Holiday Gifts in DC Budget Bill

Bankers, Pot Smokers Get Holiday Gifts in DC Budget Bill

by Doug Porter 12.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The The Grinch was alive and well yesterday as the House of Representatives passed a compromise “CRomnibus.” The word is politi-speak for a combined continuing resolution (to keep funding the government) and omnibus (comprehensive budget) legislation.

A rebellion on both sides of the aisle nearly blocked passage of the bill. Conservatives wanted to make more of a statement about the President’s executive order on immigration. Progressives were steamed about language –actually written by lobbyists–rolling back financial industry reforms put into place following the 2009 economic collapse.

But there’s so much more to see here. In these days of Congressional gridlock and Obama derangement syndrome, a bi-partisan leadership group (House Republicans and Senate Democrats) deemed it necessary to drop a document bigger than War and Peace on Tuesday,  expecting a vote in less than 72 hours.

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Thumbnail image for Vacation Rentals In San Diego Under More Scrutiny

Vacation Rentals In San Diego Under More Scrutiny

by John P. Anderson 12.12.2014 Business

Vacation rental property owners targeted for missing tax payments

By John P. Anderson

I have a small cottage that I rent out to visitors via the vacation rental website Airbnb. The cottage is on the same property as my home and I did not think that vacation rental taxes in San Diego applied to my situation.

The taxes in San Diego for vacation rentals are the transient occupancy tax (TOT) and tourism marketing district (TMD) assessment. The rates for a property like mine from these taxes total 11.05% of gross rent – 10.5% TOT and .55% TMD, there is also a higher 1.45% TMD rate that applies to lodging businesses with 30 or more units.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Just Call Me Todd’ Gloria Gets the Boot as City Council President

‘Just Call Me Todd’ Gloria Gets the Boot as City Council President

by Doug Porter 12.11.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Depending on who you talk to, the City Council’s 7-2 vote yesterday to elect District One’s Democrat Sherri Lightner as President over Todd Gloria was either a victory for evil reactionaries or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Looking at the two Councilpersons voting records prior to 2014, there doesn’t seem to be much of an ideological difference. The San Diego Labor Council declined to endorse both Gloria (rated by them at 60%) and Lightner (54%) in the 2012 election. So what’s the big deal?

Today we’ll take a look at the debate this decision by the council has spawned and my best guess as to what the consequences will be.

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Thumbnail image for State Department Selected Chevron as Finalist for “Corporate Excellence” Award

State Department Selected Chevron as Finalist for “Corporate Excellence” Award

by Source 12.11.2014 Activism

By Dan Bacher

It’s hard to believe, but the Obama administration recently selected Chevron, the San Ramon-based corporate giant known for environmental destruction and the violation of human rights throughout the world, as a finalist for its “corporate excellence” award!

According to a State Department press release, “The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs has announced the selection of nine finalists for the Secretary of State’s prestigious 2014 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).”

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Thumbnail image for SDSU Students Fight Fraternity Rape Culture

SDSU Students Fight Fraternity Rape Culture

by Doug Porter 12.10.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Students at San Diego State University participated in a march and sit-in on Tuesday, demanding the school take action in response to sexual assaults and harassment. The protest was triggered by reports of people associated with fraternity houses yelling  obscenities, waving dildos and throwing eggs at a Nov. 21st  anti-rape march called Take Back the Night.

Their demands included an open forum with  SDSU President Elliot Hirshman during the spring semester, along with the resignations of fraternity members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon and Delta Sigma Phi from various posts on the campus. The protesters cited the need for a planned Women’s Resource Center to serve as a rape crisis center and for CSU and UC colleges to release all statistical data on the investigation, adjudication and sanction of cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.

As is the case with police-linked killings around the country, the protests are the local manifestation of a much larger problem, and today I’ll try to give this story some context.

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Thumbnail image for What a Difference a Few Decades Make : An Interview with Kevin Beiser

What a Difference a Few Decades Make : An Interview with Kevin Beiser

by Judi Curry 12.10.2014 Education

By Judi Curry

As a public school teacher beginning my career in the early sixties, I have seen the pendulum swing many ways in the past fifty years. (Fifty Years! My God!) Perhaps one of the biggest swings was from the professional organizations of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA) to the American Federation of Teachers ( AFT) and other labor organizations.

As a member of “management” later in my career, I have been disillusioned with professionals (educators) belonging to labor organizations, because I have always felt that the “product” – read children – we deal with cannot be “recalled” to put in a missing part. We get one time to do it correctly, and God help us all if we are not successful.

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Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 2

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 2

by John Lawrence 12.09.2014 Business

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence / Part 1 can be found here

We are lucky to have advanced to a stage that scientists can determine the relationship between the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere, the absolute value in tons of CO2 already in and projected to be in the atmosphere, the rate of increase of CO2 emissions and the relationship between amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface temperatures.

If we didn’t have this science, we might go right ahead destroying the earth’s environment to the point of extinction of human life without even understanding what was happening to us.

As it is, even though scientists have spelled it out for us, many people are not convinced the threat from global warming is even real or, if it is, that moderate methods that don’t disrupt current economic relationships will be sufficient to keep the problem at bay.

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Thumbnail image for A Couple of Heartless Transactions at Union Bank

A Couple of Heartless Transactions at Union Bank

by Bob Dorn 12.09.2014 Business

By Bob Dorn

So, this 71-year-old with the income of a teenager walks into an uptown branch of Union Bank. He had just $28.75 in his checking account following his open heart surgery two weeks before on Nov. 17.

This was his first chance to get to the bank to take up some issues.One reason he had so little money had nothing to do with the bank’s operations. He’d had an angiogram and an EKG earlier in the month – stuff the medical world must do before doctors can open everything up to repair floppy heart valves – and the upfront co-pays were about $160 more than he’d anticipated. Those and smaller amounts for medicine accounted for the couple of hundred he hadn’t factored into demands on the checking account.

Still, he had his “overdraft protection savings account” with a balance of $600 available to cover any shortfall in his checking account. So he wasn’t worried when his wife took him to the hospital for the surgery Nov. 17. The money would be automatically transferred from the savings account to the checking to cover the unanticipated advance medical fees.

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Thumbnail image for Barbara Boxer Likely to Step Down from US Senate

Barbara Boxer Likely to Step Down from US Senate

by Doug Porter 12.08.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Washington DC’s Politico.com has posted a story strongly suggesting California Senator Barbara Boxer is on her way out the door in 2016.

It’s been more than two decades since California’s sitting Senators were first elected and a recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll indicates voters are ready for a change. A majority of state voters (59%) told pollsters they believed it was time for new blood, even though both incumbents remain popular and would likely win re-election if they sought it..

The Politico story focuses on the back-room maneuvering underway among candidates who may seek Senator Boxer’s seat in 2016. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, billionaire hedge-fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are all mentioned as possible candidates.

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Thumbnail image for A Day of Protests in San Diego and Around the Nation

A Day of Protests in San Diego and Around the Nation

by Doug Porter 12.05.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The big news in downtown San Diego yesterday, if you are a reader of the local daily newspaper, was the bomb squad being called in to investigate a discarded sex toy left on the ground near the federal courthouse.

In keeping with UT-San Diego’s historic lack of coverage, there was no mention of early morning protests temporarily causing a McDonald’s franchise in City Heights to lock their doors. Or the members of the City Council who came out at 6am to stand with the demonstrators. Or the 150 or so protesters who marched all over downtown for a three hour period mid-day, targeting not only fast food stores but federal immigration enforcement, and echoing nationwide dismay over recent killings at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Local TV stations sent cameramen to get a bit of footage of the downtown demonstrations. KUSI, KFMB, Fox5, and 10news all used a local wire service for their actual reporting on the demonstration.

Now I know these demonstrations weren’t “page one or lead story” news by contemporary journalism standards. Something is happening here in San Diego and around the country. There is a larger story about inequality and injustice. And it’s not going away.

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Thumbnail image for Chicago set to raise minimum wage to $13

Chicago set to raise minimum wage to $13

by Source 12.04.2014 Activism

By Laura Clawson / Daily Kos

Chicago is likely to be the next city to raise its minimum wage, with its city council voting Tuesday on an increase supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

The mayor’s revised minimum wage ordinance would raise the hourly minimum wage in Chicago each year in July, starting with an increase to $10 next year. It would then go up to $10.50 in 2016, $11 in 2017, $12 in 2018, and $13 in 2019.After 2019, the city’s minimum wage would go up each year at a rate equal to the rise in the Consumer Price Index.

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Thumbnail image for Injustices in Ferguson, Mexico and the Fast Food Business Trigger Protests in San Diego

Injustices in Ferguson, Mexico and the Fast Food Business Trigger Protests in San Diego

by Doug Porter 12.03.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

There are protests aplenty in San Diego this week. Yesterday City College students walked out in solidarity with those who see recent events in Ferguson as part of a larger problem of injustice. They also acknowledged the international outcry over the 43 missing Mexican students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

Today protesters will come together in 43 cities (including San Marcos) across the United States in a display of solidarity to demand that the government uphold its own human rights laws by stopping funding for the Mérida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico.

And tomorrow fast food workers and their allies in San Diego and 150 other cities will be making a statement about inherent unfairness of a business strategy needing government programs to keep wages low and profits high.

We’ll look at all three of these protests today.

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Thumbnail image for To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision

To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision

by Source 12.03.2014 Business

Amid speculation over 2016 presidential run, senator from Vermont lays out 12-step plan to combat 40-year decline of middle class and rampant inequality

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced his vision for a progressive economic agenda that he says could restore shared prosperity, reinvigorate the middle class, and mitigate a host of social crises that stem from the current system that has created great wealth for a select few while systematically eroding the quality of life for the many.

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Thumbnail image for UT-San Diego’s Imaginary “War on Cars”

UT-San Diego’s Imaginary “War on Cars”

by Doug Porter 12.02.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Papa Doug Manchester’s Mission Valley minions have decided to create an imaginary world to explain away recent court decisions adverse to the planning documents of the county government and the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG.

Today’s UT-San Diego editorial fantasizes about an alternative universe wherein their “smart growth” principles are opposed by evil environmentalists seeking to impose suffering upon the good people of America’s Finest City by banning automobiles. It closes with a rant about “those who view cars and freeways the same way that most people think about bubonic plague.”

As is true with other imagined narratives (Fox News fantasies about a War on Christmas is my personal favorite), the War on Cars concept provides the opportunity for rapid-fire distortions and lies.

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Thumbnail image for Erin Brockovich Slams Oil Industry’s Use of Unlined Disposal Pits

Erin Brockovich Slams Oil Industry’s Use of Unlined Disposal Pits

by Source 12.02.2014 Business

By Dan Bacher / Daily Kos

Erin Brockovich, the legal clerk and environmental activist who was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1993 for its contamination of drinking water in the Southern California town of Hinkley, is speaking out against the use of unlined pits to dispose of the massive volumes of wastewater produced by oil and gas companies conducting fracking and other oil extraction methods in the Central Valley.

On her Facebook page, she points out the irony of the oil companies employing this environmentally unsound practice that threatens precious groundwater and surface water supplies during the time of a historic drought in California:

“I am thankful California has so much water to spare it can just waste it in our oil fields.  

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Thumbnail image for December 4th Fast Food Strikes: Part of a Much Bigger Picture

December 4th Fast Food Strikes: Part of a Much Bigger Picture

by Doug Porter 12.01.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Fast food workers in San Diego and 150 other cities will be walking off the job this Thursday demanding an industry-wide base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union.

This nationwide protest comes on the heels of Black Friday protests at 1600 WalMart stores in 49 states. Workers in stores in walked off the job in advance of the protests on Wednesday in California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.

Demonstrators angered by events in Ferguson, Missouri targeted malls in cities around the country (including San Diego) urging shoppers to skip shopping to show solidarity with their cause.

The particulars of these events are not as important as what they represent: a growing sense of frustration with economic and social conditions. These actions are symbolic, intended to break through the “everybody knows” noise generated by the mass media.

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Thumbnail image for No Justice, No Profits! Ferguson Protests Move to Stores on Black Friday

No Justice, No Profits! Ferguson Protests Move to Stores on Black Friday

by Anna Daniels 11.28.2014 Activism

By Anna Daniels

“Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler is spear heading a movement to boycott retailers in protest of the decision to not indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Using the hashtag #BlackOutBlackFriday they are urging consumers to boycott retailers on Black Friday. The movement’s website Blackout for Human Rights states:

Blackout for Human Rights (Blackout) is a network of concerned artists, activists, and citizens who committed their energy and resources to immediately address the staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans throughout the United States. We have witnessed enough. An affront to any citizen’s human rights threatens the liberty of all. So, we participate in one of the most time honored American traditions: dissent. We demand an immediate end to the brutal treatment and inhumane killings of our loved ones; the lives of our friends, our parents and our children have value and should be treated with respect. Our right to life is secured not only by our humanity, but is protected by law both federally and internationally by the Constitution of the United States of America and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Thumbnail image for What to Do When Black Friday Isn’t Your Thing

What to Do When Black Friday Isn’t Your Thing

by At Large 11.28.2014 Activism

By Debbie Forward

Black Friday Walmart Actions in the San Diego Area

Grossmont 11am– 8820 Grossmont Blvd, La Mesa
Aero 10am– 3382 Murphy Canyon Rd, SD
Logan 10am– 2121 Imperial Ave, SD

If you’re one of the humans who believe holidays are for friends and families, nobody should be forced to work on Thanksgiving Day, and you steer away from the shopping masses on Black Friday, well, here’s something worthy of your consideration.

Thousands of people like you are signing up to join peaceful demonstrations at hundreds of Walmarts across the country to support the stores’ employees in their quest for decent working conditions. Some of those rallies are already planned in San Diego County. Even in North County. Gasp.

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Thumbnail image for Thanks for Nothing (and Everything): On Walmart, Black Friday, and Thich Nhat Hanh

Thanks for Nothing (and Everything): On Walmart, Black Friday, and Thich Nhat Hanh

by Jim Miller 11.24.2014 Business

By Jim Miller

It’s Thanksgiving week and Walmart is getting ready to ruin the party by asking nearly one million of its workers to come in on the holiday to get a jump-start on the Black Friday consumer frenzy. Given its size and influence, Walmart’s move, if successful, is likely to set a trend in the industry and wreck Thanksgiving for millions more underpaid service sector workers in the future.

Fortunately, OUR Walmart is responding in kind by promising the biggest Black Friday Strike ever with allies in labor and the community promising to join hands with them in their protest. As Think Progress recently reported:

Workers have gone on strike and protested for the past two Black Fridays. This time, they will also be joined by “tens of thousands” of community members, according to Stephanie Ly, AFT New Mexico president and a teacher, the “largest mobilizing of working families we’ve seen in recent history.” Teachers, elected officials, members of the clergy, and others will participate in protests at stores, flash mobs, marches, and prayer vigils.

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Thumbnail image for Working Tech for Good Causes and Loving It Every Day

Working Tech for Good Causes and Loving It Every Day

by At Large 11.18.2014 Activism

By Oliver James

I threw away a $100k+ a year career for my community. I live in City Heights, San Diego, California and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And this is why I did it.

Let’s rewind a bit back to 2010. I was working for a marketing company providing design and marketing services to the financial industry. I was making around $65k a year and life was good (or so it seemed).

Don’t get me wrong $65,000 a year was great. But I wasn’t really, truly happy.

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Thumbnail image for Wall Street Criminals Walk Free After Inflicting Enormous Damage on American Citizens

Wall Street Criminals Walk Free After Inflicting Enormous Damage on American Citizens

by John Lawrence 11.18.2014 Business

Wall Street Fraud on a Massive Basis

By John Lawrence

In an article in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi lays out the case involving massive fraud on the part of JP Morgan Chase, one of Wall Street’s biggest and un-finest banks, considered too big to fail and, evidently, too big to prosecute for the massive criminality it is guilty of. It has been well documented what they and other Wall Street banks did that caused the financial crisis of 2008.

First, their counterparts lured everyone with a beating heart into their offices and gave them a mortgage regardless of their credit score, regardless of whether or not they were working, regardless of whether they could even afford to make a mortgage payment. Countrywide is the prime example of the predatory recruitment of low income people in order to turn them into homeowners despite their inability to pay.

As soon as they had signed on the dotted line and Countrywide had collected their commissions, they offloaded the mortgages to JP Morgan Chase and others so that they could be collectivized with other mortgages, securitized and given triple A ratings by credit rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, then sliced and diced into tranches and sold off as Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) to pension funds, retirement funds, insurance companies and other unsuspecting dupes.

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Thumbnail image for The United Taxi Workers Victory and the Struggle for a New Labor Movement

The United Taxi Workers Victory and the Struggle for a New Labor Movement

by Jim Miller 11.17.2014 Activism

By Jim Miller

Last Monday’s victory for the United Taxi Workers of San Diego provided a much-needed boost for local labor.

After a year that has included some tough losses at the polls and the effort to save the minimum wage ordinance, it was inspiring to see the taxi drivers (largely East African immigrant workers) burst into celebration and pour out of Golden Hall chanting “USA!” as they embraced each other, mounted the planter boxes, and cheered for joy.

It was the kind of genuine expression of collective exuberance that comes when workers feel, perhaps for the first time, that they have taken ownership of their lives and destinies.

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